Flax Linum usitatissimum
How to sow flax: Direct seed outdoors
Sun requirement for flax: Plant in Full Sun
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Flax is an annual, upright plant in the Linaceae family that was first cultivated in the Fertile Crescent for it's food and fibers. Flax is grown for it's seeds (which are eaten, ground into flaxmeal, added to bread, and pressed into oil), it's cellulose fibers (which are spun into linen), and as an ornamental. Flax does best in cooler climates, and can be direct seeded outdoors in the early spring as soon as the soil can be worked. Flax grows best in self-supporting patches, like grains, and should be broadcasted and raked. Seeds can be tossed with flour before sowing to help them spread evenly across the soil. Flax's slender stems grow quickly and produce pale blue flowers 15-25mm in diameter that mature into round seed pods containing 4-10 glossy brown seeds. The pods are left to dry on the plant until they turn from green to ochre or brown. Once 90% of the pods are dry, they can be harvested. Flax can also be grown as sprouts, which have a slightly spicy flavor. The seeds and oil are high in omega-3 fatty acids and are used as nutritional supplements. Flax fibers are two to three times as strong as cotton fibers and are naturally smooth and straight. Linseed meal, the byproduct from pressing oil from flax seeds, can be fed to livestock.
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